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SOFTBALL OPENS BIG SKY CHAMPIONSHIP PLAY ON THURSDAY

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TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

All games at Miller Ranch Stadium on the Idaho State campus in Pocatello, Idaho

Thursday, May 9
Game 1 -- No. 3 seed Southern Utah vs. No. 2 seed Portland State    12 p.m. PDT
Game 2 -- No. 4 seed Sacramento State vs. No. 1 seed Idaho State    3 p.m. PDT

Friday, May 10
Game 3 -- Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2    9 a.m. PDT
Game 4 -- Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2    12 p.m. PDT
Game 5 -- Loser of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4    3 p.m. PDT

Saturday, May 11
Game 6 -- Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 5    12 p.m. PDT
Game 7 (if necessary) -- Game 5 winner must win Game 6 to force a Game 7    3 p.m. PDT

FIRST CONFERENCE POSTSEASON TOURNAMENT APPEARANCE
Since joining the Div. I ranks in 1990, Sacramento State has played in four conferences, but this year will mark the first time the Hornets have played in a conference postseason tournament. Sacramento State has played in the WAC (1993-96), Big West (1997-02) and Pacific Coast Softball Conference (2003-12), but none of those leagues sponsored a postseason tournament.

VS. THE TOURNAMENT FIELD

Sacramento State is a combined 3-6 against the other three teams in the Big Sky Championship, including 1-2 marks against Southern Utah, Portland State and Idaho State. The Hornets played both Southern Utah and Portland State on the road, and Idaho State at home. Each of the three wins came in shutout performances by right-hander Caitlin Brooks as the Hornets outscored those three teams by a combined 18-0 score in the three victories. Three of the six losses came by one run, including two extra-inning affairs.

MULTIMEDIA OPTIONS FOR THE TOURNAMENT
Idaho State is offering live video, audio and stats for every game during the tournament. To access the video, click here while the audio can be obtained by clicking here. To access live stats for each game, click here.

BROOKS IN GAME 1 HAS BEEN GOLD

Sophomore right-hander Caitlin Brooks, who is the unquestioned team MVP of this season's squad, ranks among the nation's top 15 pitchers in three categories, including ninth in hits allowed per seven innings (3.9), 14th in shutouts (8) and 15th in ERA (1.41). She has been unbelievable when facing a conference team for the first time in a series as well. In her last four meetings against a conference opponent when facing them for the first time, she is 4-0 with four shutouts and a .079 opponent batting average. In those four wins against Southern Utah, Weber State, Portland State and Idaho State, she has allowed just seven hits (six singles) while walking four and striking out 31 batters over 25.0 innings. Overall this season, she is 14-6 with a 1.41 ERA, and has accounted for 14 of the team's 22 victories.

NO WINNING STREAK IN A WHILE
Sacramento State has not strung together a winning streak of at least two games since winning back-to-back games against Northern Colorado on March 22-23. Each of the Hornets' six wins since that time have been followed by losses. Sacramento State lost 11 of its final 17 games of the regular season.

YOUTH IS SERVED
Sacramento State has routinely used an underclassmen-laden lineup this season. Of the 10 projected starters for Thursday's game (nine position players and the pitcher), seven are underclassmen, comprised of four sophomores and three freshmen.

PITCHING LEADS THE WAY

In a season which has seen Sacramento State's offense put up its lowest numbers in eight years, its the pitching staff which has carried the team. The Hornets lead the Big Sky Conference in virtually every meaningful statistical pitching category, and currently rank 30th in the nation with a 2.11 team ERA. While Sacramento State's offense has managed just 3.2 runs per contest, the pitching staff has allowed 2.9 runs per game. That includes limiting the opposition to a miniscule .214 batting average while allowing two runs or less on 23 occasions. Sophomore Caitlin Brooks has been the staff ace since Day 1, while junior Taylor Stroud and freshman Jennifer Hartman have both been used as the team's No. 2 starter throughout the season.

HORNET NOTABLES
Center fielder Kelli Frye has reached base safely via hit and/or walk in 13 straight games, and is batting .370 with a .431 on-base percentage over that span…shortstop Alyssa Vanderdrink has a six-game hitting streak and is batting .421 (8-for-19) over that stretch with five runs scored…the Hornets are 14-8 in games pitcher Caitlin Brooks starts, and 8-12 when she isn't in the circle…Sacramento State is 10-8 in one-run games, but has lost four of its last five one-run ball games…the Hornets are hitting .298 as a team with runners in scoring position…second baseman Kayla Papez has hit safely in six of her last seven games, and is batting .348 (8-for-23) during that stretch.

All 25 pages of the game notes can be accessed by clicking on the link above the story.

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